Donald Trump is suddenly taking some big swings at sabotaging the investigation into his Russia scandal, prompting some among the Resistance to become nervous. If Trump is coming out swinging, there’s the fear that he might hit something and cause damage. But the cold hard reality is this: Trump was always going to take these kinds of desperate and risky swings once he felt he was likely to lose anyway. We’ve become so fixated on his efforts, we’ve lost track of the fact that we know he’s running out of oxygen.
These antics like the Nunes memo are obviously not helping him any. That’s because when you’re desperate and you’re running out of time, you tend to be stuck resorting to low percentage shots. The real focus here should be on why he’s making the kind of endgame moves you make when you’re about to lose. The answer is that Robert Mueller already told him that he only has a couple weeks left.
About a week ago, Mueller informed Trump that he wanted to interview him within the next few weeks. That means that Trump has, at this point, roughly two weeks left until he has to make the biggest no-win decision of his life. If he agrees to testify, Mueller will either nail him for confessing to crimes, or nail him for lying. If he refuses to testify, Mueller will get a court order to compel him to testify. If Trump then invokes the Fifth Amendment, he’ll destroy himself politically in one fell swoop.
Donald Trump, or at least the people advising him, appear to have informed him that he has no possible way of surviving Mueller’s deadline. No matter how he handles it, he loses. He’s taking his last desperate swings right now because he’s already going to lose, and he has nothing more to lose. We don’t know what an increasingly erratic and unstable Trump will try to do in these next two weeks. If the memo was his “best” idea, we’re about to see his worst ideas. But one way or the other, he has two weeks of oxygen left and he knows it. After that, he’ll have to make a choice that’ll destroy him one way or the other.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report